The crisp, autumn sunshine danced through the open window as my friend curled her hair in the doorway to her bathroom. Worship music played softly as she got ready for our double date while I sat on the edge of her bed laughing and sweetly antagonizing her.
She asked my opinion on this shirt and that sweater. that bracelet and those jeans. or maybe leggings. or maybe a skirt.
and we hadn’t even thought about shoes yet…
My normal type-A, hyper-organized, 5-minutes-early personality could have cared less about the friends already waiting for us downtown. As Brad Paisley says, “I don’t mind, waitin’ on a woman.”
I made jokes about her overstuffed double-wide closet and she gave me the “You’re-ridiculous-Sam-smile” that makes my heart flat-line and my stomach swoon.
As she continued to try on every article of clothing sold in the tri-state area, I heard her share one soft, negative comment about her looks as she turned in the mirror. I barely noticed until a few minutes later, I heard another one. By the third one, a deep sorrow started sinking below my skin.
My God, she doesn’t see it.
She doesn’t know how breathtaking she is. She’s easily one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known—both inside and out—and she only sees the flaws.
She continued to pick. and change. and stress in pursuit of perfection. and my heart dropped out three floors to the street below.
How could she not see it?
I’ve been on a long journey of hating myself. Can I say that out loud?
Like my friend, I too pick at the way I look and other insecurities. I chastise myself for talking too much or too little. I let past failures cloud the bright future in front of me.
It might have taken me twenty-nine freaking years, but holy lutefisk people I’m done with that crap. If you don’t know the inner-winner workings of my brain, you may not know I am one of the most self-critical people on the planet; there’s a perfectionist drive within me that never stops.
On the best days, it drives me to flip houses while concurrently finishing marathons & Master’s Degrees. It pushes me to apply for doctoral ministry programs while teaching full-time and running a ministry.
On its worst days, it leaves me sleeping lifeless in a pile of unfolded laundry and self-hatred.
As a teacher and youth leader, as someone who travels the country talking to people about depression and suicide, I can safely tell you that hating yourself is in fashion in the world today. From supermodels to dad-bods, from award-winning scientists to elementary students, somehow many of us have been brainwashed to hate the people we were created to be.
…we have learned to hate the body given to us. the mind. the spirit. the essence of our souls. …we have allowed this world to convince us we are disgusting and worthless. …we feel as if euphoric happiness is just on the other side of that next promotion or lower number on the scale and we fail to see all the incredible things about ourselves the way we are.
and i think that’s bullshit.
Why do we all find it so hard to just love ourselves for the imperfect, messed up humans we are?
It’s time we stop looking to Corporate America for our value and our worth and look to the only place where Truth echoes throughout the mountains: God’s word.
“You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.” —Ephesians 2:2 MSG
If you’re a recovering self-hating junky like I am, it’s time for you to finally let go of all the bullshit. Decide today to tell the negative and critical voices—both outside and inside your brain—where they can stick it.
Fight the lies in your brain by holding onto who God says you are for dear life. Focus on a healthy lifestyle and improving your faults without obsessing about the person you are not
Shut down the extreme exposure to advertisements we’re all inundated with every single day designed to convince you you’re not enough and will never be happy until…
Inundate your living space with notes and bibles verses so that truth smacks you in the face like a never-ending Slap Bet.
Allow negative thoughts to move past your brain like a train, noticing and waving good while visualizing it leaving and never coming back.
Focus on complimenting everyone you are with at least once per day. Constantly speak life and truth to those around you who are probably on their own self-doubt journey.
You. Yes you. I see awesomeness in you (even if no one else does). I see a strong heart and more courage than you even know. I see hope and a future. I see an ocean of potential and progress. I see a beautiful life of friendship and road trips. I see smiles, and laughing fits, and trick birthday candles. I see you standing up in a crowded room carrying a light that starts within and explodes into the darkness. I see you stomping on the lies thrown at you from all sides. I see you with thick skin and a soft heart. I see you finally living into the person you were created to be. Strong. Incredible. Fearless.
So let’s all agree: ENOUGH.
Let’s agree to speak truth and relentlessly build each other up. Let’s agree to apologize and dream big dreams every single day… and finally let everything else go.
Only God knows what is truest about you. Seek him first. Let me tell you how awesome you are every single day until you believe it deep in your bones.
As she opened the bathroom door wearing outfit variation #583, I smiled quietly and said,
“You’re just… awesome.”
She squinted her eyes and nose in my direction and went back to the mirror.
I looked up at the ceiling and prayed for God to show her just how incredible she was. I prayed that she would forget her flaws and see herself as the strong, incredible woman she already is.
And I pray that today for each and every one of you. You can’t be recklessly alive if you hate yourself; it doesn’t work that way.
Fight the lies and love the person God made you to be.